KT offers up part 2 of Dollhouse Monday!
DOLLHOUSE: 2.08 “A Love Supreme”
I like this new, suave Alpha. Last spring we saw him play hilariously timid and we saw his megalomania, so it was fun to see a different facet of his insanity. It amuses me to imagine Alpha as a sort of comic book villain for the Dollhouse — the kind that comes back every once in a while, stirs up some mayhem, but always escapes to fight another day.
And I like this new, soulful Echo who banters with Topher in an almost world-weary way. Eliza Dushku has taken some heat for not being as versatile a doll as some of her co-stars, but in this episode and “Meet Jane Doe,” I think Echo is becoming more deep. I thought Eliza was excellent here.
Ballard and Boyd make a good team, and it’s not just the alliteration. Boyd is the calm rock, Ballard is more excitable, and their affection for Echo provides both a bond and just enough rivalry for a little flavor.
And since Topher knows a conspiracy when he desperately tries to avoid seeing one, he badgers Ballard and Boyd into telling him the truth about Echo, which blows his mind. Topher’s reaction to the news and to Echo herself was as though a doll had come to life… so to speak. The question of what is Echo is a valid one at this point, and I enjoyed watching Topher wrestle with it. And after the debacle with his blueprints in “Meet Jane Doe,” I don’t think he would have confided in Adelle about this one any time soon.
I can’t decide which amused me more: the scene where Sierra saunters in talking about guys and dolls like she’s stepped out of a Damon Runyon story or the earlier scene in which Dr. Victor can’t keep his eyes off her even as he’s analyzing gender relations.
But all of that gets pushed to the side when Alpha begins to make himself known. He’s got a mean jealous streak, and begins to take out all of Echo’s repeat clients — all the people who love Echo. When Boyd and Ballard catch up to him, there seems to be only one left: Joel Mynor from “Man on the Street.” Thematically, Joel’s here to offer another perspective on loving an active and on love itself, but it’s also just fun to have Patton Oswalt come back and have a scene with Topher.
This time there’s no fuss about how exactly Alpha got in; he just steps out of Adelle’s bathroom and offers to show her his vacation photos. Turns out he spent some time in Texas, too! So that should clear up any doubts Adelle may have had about who was helping Echo.
Alpha also slips in a reference to Monty Python here, which made me laugh because Alan Tudyk has been in Spamalot (he played Lancelot for about six months in 2005) as well as in a production called An Evening Without Monty Python earlier this fall.
That’s approximately the point at which the episode decideds that there’s been enough talking and there really should be some running and fighting now. Alpha achieves this neatly by triggering all the actives into mindless fighters, then hunts out Joel Mynor, who becomes bait for Paul Ballard. And while I’m sure Alpha killed Echo’s clients because it suited his sick sense of humor, it becomes clear that his real target all along was Paul, who despite his obsession has worked so very hard to not fall in love with Echo. But Paul, as we’ve known all along, is not special. And for all his efforts, he winds up braindead in the dollhouse, his personality added to the cocktail of craziness in Alpha’s head.
Here’s my question: If Paul’s saved to that wedge, can he be re-imprinted with himself?
But for now, Echo’s watching over Paul and Joel Mynor has taken his leave, intending to leave the Dollhouse forever and remarry. He’s the flip side of the guy at the beginning who blew his fortune on engagements with Echo. Adelle’s pitch is always that the Dollhouse gives you what you need, but you have to know for yourself how much you really do need. Joel got it right, got through his grief, and is moving on; the other guy became an addict, I suppose, and didn’t know when to stop. There’s a real pathos about loving and depending upon a person who doesn’t exist.